The Angolan anti-corruption activist and journalist Rafael Marques de Morais recently made the pages of Africa Confidential, which discussed his having filed a criminal complaint against three prominent Angolans with the Angolan Attorney General’s Office.
You can’t read about the details of the case in Africa Confidential without a subscription, but you can read about it on Mr. Marques de Morais’ website for free.
The case alleges that Manuel Domingos Vicente, the Chairman of the Board and C.E.O. of Sonangol E.P., Angola’s state owned oil company; General Hélder Manuel Vieira Dias Júnior “Kopelipa,” Minister of State and Head of the Military Bureau of the President of the Republic; and General Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento “Dino,” advisor to the Minister of State and Head of the Military Bureau of the President of the Republic are guilty of crimes of corruption under article 73 of the Angolan constitution and the Law on Public Probity (the main pieces of anti-corruption legislation in Angola’s newly approved – 2010 – Constitution) for their ownership in Nazaki Oil and Gaz, S.A.
While Mr. Marques de Morais is often accused of being backed, encouraged and paid by foreign interests (if you read Portuguese check out this January 15, 2012 editorial in the state daily Jornal de Angola in which the editor accuses him of crimes against the freedom of the press and in which that question is explored more generally), his concern is very specifically with Angola and with Angolan law. What has always struck me about his perspective, even during the bad old days of the civil war, is his insistence that Angolans need to resolve their own problems with their own resources, be they material, intellectual or cultural. He appeals to Angolan law, Angolan courts and Angolan practices (like the very name of his website maka – see the website for an explanation) to resolve Angolan issues.
Elections are scheduled for September 2012 so it is unlikely that anything will happen with the case before then. Rumors have circulated since mid-2011 that Manuel Vicente will be tapped as José Eduardo dos Santos’ successor as President. Just last week Vicente announced to Sonangol’s Board of Directors that he will be leaving to take a position as Minister of State for Economic Coordination. The weekly paper Semanário Angolense said the Political Bureau of the ruling MPLA will soon meet to decide whether Vicente or the current Vice President, Fernando Piedade dos Santos “Nandó,” will be the VP candidate, a question that has been raising some dust in party headquarters. Nandó can make no claim to greater probity, he’s just got more mileage with the ruling party. But this does underscore a growing fissure between the President and the ruling party and/or within the MPLA, which for long time observers is not new news but perhaps exposes some different alignments.